Our Instructors

Master Burke began his martial arts training in Silkisondan Karate with Master Thinh Nguyen in 1981. He received his Black Belt in 1987. He is originally from Richmond, Virginia, graduated from St. Benedictine High School in 1986, studied at Virginia Commonwealth University for two years before joining the United States Marine Corps.

He is a combat veteran of the first Persian Gulf War, attained the rank of Sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1995. Master Burke moved to Florida in 1998 and received his Bachelors degree from Florida State University in 2000.

Master Burke is one of only two students to have attained the title of Master, 5th Degree Black Belt, under Master Thinh. Master Burke also has a 5th degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon-Do a 5th degree Master in Chon-Tu Kwan (Combat) Hapkido, and a 5th Degree Black Belt in  martial art’s legend Bill “Superfoot” Wallace’s Superfoot Kickboxing System.

Master Burke is a Certified Military Combatives Instructor, a Certified Pressure Point Instructor and a Certified Ground Survival Instructor.

Master Burke is a 4 time Black Belt Hall of Fame member and was personally nominated for the Hall of Fame by martial arts and fighting legend Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and Combat Hapkido founder and 10th degree black belt Grandmaster John Pellegrini.

Master Burke also has trained in other martial arts including Kali, Shito-Ryu, Judo, Aikido and Jiu-jitsu, and has personally trained extensively with martial arts legends and pioneers such as Michael Jai White, , Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Sifu Samuel Kwok (wing chun), Michael DePasquale, Jr. (Combat Ju-Jitsu), Cynthia Rothrock (Kung-fu) and martial arts legend and movie star Jeff Speakman (Kenpo).

Jack Adkins, 2nd dan Black Belt Silkisondan Karate, 2nd Degree Black Belt Tae Kwon Do: “I had very little formalized training but a lot of freelance workouts with persons who had trained within formal disciplines.  Throughout my professional career there were a variety of Defensive Tactics and Tactical training venues which had many components that originated from Martial Arts concepts.

As my children came along i returned to the Martial Arts in order to provide them with the tools and mind set to be confident, positive thinking individuals.  During this time I was able to focus and allocate the time needed to realize my goal in becoming a functional Martial Artist.

After many years training I was fortunate to meet Sensei Rusty Burke and gladly became one of his students when he opened his dojo.  Even as many Martial Arts disciplines share common roots, the major differences come from philosophies and instruction (i.e. Instructors).  The formal yet practical applications of Martial Arts and Self-Defense provided by Silkisandon Karate and Sensei Burke have allowed continued achievable growth along this physically and mentally demanding path.  I also hold a 2nd degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon do.”




Chris Yearwood, 2nd Dan Black Belt:  Chris is from Washington, NJ. He graduated from Warren Hills Regional Senior High School in 1987. Chris trained in Isshinryu Karate from 1982-1987. He graduated from Florida State in 1992 with a degree in Management Information Systems. Chris began training in Silkisondan Karate in 2011 and earned has earned his 2nd Degree Black Belt. Chris has two sons that train at Burke’s Karate Academy, and one daughter who watches avidly from the sidelines. All will no doubt be black belts themselves one day.







Jason Pettus:  A native Floridian, Jason Pettus was born to a military family. From an early age, Jason was interested

in all things karate and martial arts. His journey through the world of martial arts brought him exposure to many forms of martial arts including judo, boxing, karate, a bit of ground fighting and aikido along with his current practice in GM Pellegrini’s Combat Hapkido and Silkisondan Karate. However, Jason’s passion comes from the Philippines. For the last fifteen years Jason has been training in the Filipino Martial Arts and is a proud practitioner of Kali.

Kali is a complete martial art that has its roots in the cutting edge. Through the use of sticks, swords, knives, empty hands, kicking, throws, and improvised weapons, Kali brings the practitioner deeper into a holistic art that emphasizes the mind, body, and sprit. Kali has changed Jason’s worldview, through a long relationship with the art, he has found an irreplaceable love for finding,developing, and being in the flow. It is Jason’s hope to keep his interpretation of Kali alive and well for future generations.



Pete Knowlton, 2nd Dan Black Belt: Pete was born and raised in New York, graduating from John Jay High School in 1994. He started studying Goju-Ryu Karate in his middle school years, but migrated towards the arts, which led to a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Roanoke College (1999).

After a failed Rock Star attempt, Pete made roots here in Tallahassee with his wife and started a family. Pete started training in Silkisondan Karate in 2013 after his daughter asked to “try karate and kick stuff”.  Pete has a 2nd Dan in Silkisondan Karate, a 3rd Dan Black Belt  in Bill Wallace’s Superfoot System, a 2nd Dan Black Belt in Chon Tu Kwan (Combat) Hapkido and is a Level 1 Tactical Pressure Points Apprentice Instructor.

Pete’s wife and two daughters train at Burke’s Karate Academy and are all Black Belts. The family that trains together, kicks together.




Zach Glickson, 1st Dan Black Belt:  Zach currently holds a 4th Dan in Taekwondo, with training in that art for 11 years. He began assisting and teaching classes afterschool when he was 14, and when he graduated high school worked full time for 18 months as a business apprentice. During his time as an apprentice, he would teach up to 20 hours per week while assisting the head instructor.  After his apprenticeship he continued to teach through afterschool and summer school programs in Wakulla county for 18 months until he took a hiatus to recover from a chronic knee and foot injury and focus on his studies in college.

He returned to training in karate and Combat Hapkido with Sensei Burke, and after much training and learning the details of Silkisondan karate, became certified as a 1st Dan Black Belt in Silksondan Karate, and has been training at Burke’s Karate Academy ever since. Zach currently holds a 4th Dan in Taekwondo, , and a Black/White Belt in Combat Hapkido, with few months of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Modern Arnis Kali training as well.

He’s currently an FSU student double majoring in Biology and Secondary Science Education (FSU Teach Biology), and plans on graduating with both bachelor’s degrees in spring 2019. He also work part time at the TCC Learning Commons as a science tutor.


Chris Crouch:  Chris has a 2nd Dan Black Belt in Combat Hapkido.  He also has a 1st Dan Black Belt in traditional Hapkido.  Chris also has much training in Taekwondo and Kuk-Sul.